Giving birth doesn't seem likely to augment the finely tuned fitness of a professional athlete, but having a child may favorably change the physical and hormonal composition of mothers, according to doctors in the UK. When English long-distance runner Paula Radcliffe started winning high-profile marathons after giving birth, medical researchers took note. 

"During pregnancy, a woman’s heart is essentially remodelled. While the thickness of the heart walls remains the same, the chamber capacity increases, enabling it to hold a much larger volume of blood. This increases the efficiency with which oxygen is supplied to the muscles, the same mechanism induced by blood doping."

The postpartum stage of pregnancy, which follows the birth of the child, can last from several months up to an entire year, said Michelle Mottola, an exercise physiologist at the University of Western Ontario.

Certainly giving birth cannot make you into an elite athlete if you were not already following a strict training regimen, but increasingly the evidence points toward childbirth as a neutral-to-positive event in terms of the mother's health. 

Another instance of medical bias against females, hysteria, has also met the dustbin of history. As technology historian Rachel Maines explains, doctors went to some unusual means to try to relieve women of hysteria, which she believes was actually sexual frustration:

Read more at the Guardian

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